U.S. Fish And Wildlife Service Announces No Fish Hatchery Closures This Year

Friday, November 15, 2013

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) Friday announced that it does not intend to close any of the nation’s national fish hatcheries in the current fiscal year, but warned that closures may be necessary in FY 2015 given fiscal uncertainty and growing operations costs.  The Service released a report Friday examining the challenges facing the Service’s National Fish Hatchery System (NFHS), which will serve as the basis of discussions with stakeholders on how best to operate the system in a more sustainable manner while supporting the agency’s highest fish and aquatic conservation priorities.

“This report sounds the alarm on a hatchery system unable to meet its mission responsibilities in the current budget climate,” said Service Director Dan Ashe.  “In the coming months through the 2015 budget process, I have directed the Service to work with all of our partners to determine whether the options identified in the report, or others, are necessary and appropriate to put the system on a more sustainable financial footing.” 

Director Ashe added that the agency intends to take immediate actions to prevent imminent closures, but noted that additional actions may be necessary to address long-term funding shortfalls.

“We are putting a Band-Aid on the hatchery system.  Unless we can find a way to cover costs in a more sustainable fashion, the system will eventually need surgery,” said Mr. Ashe.  “The challenges we are facing are not new; however, we have reached the point where – in the absence of long-term solutions – we will have no option but to make tough choices to bring expense in line with actual revenues.”

Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tn.) released the following statement on the on the report. He made his remarks after talking with Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe on the report’s contents.

Senator Alexander said, “It is fortunate that we have an ongoing three-year agreement between the Tennessee Valley Authority and state and federal wildlife agencies to keep Tennessee’s hatcheries open and producing fish, but the threat of closure still exists. The Fish and Wildlife Service’s report, which does not recommend closing Tennessee’s hatcheries next year, emphasizes the importance of the working group that’s trying to come up with a permanent solution.  I will help to find a long-term solution, because the nearly 900,000 Tennesseans and visitors who buy fishing licenses in our state depend upon these hatcheries, as they are the principal reason Tennessee has some of the best trout fishing in the country.”

The working group includes the Fish and Wildlife Service, the Tennessee Valley Authority and the Tennessee and Georgia state wildlife agencies. TVA signed an agreement with federal and state wildlife agencies in May to pay more than $900,000 per year for the next three years to replace fish killed by TVA dams, and keep Tennessee’s hatcheries producing fish while the working group develops a permanent solution.

National fish hatchery operations have been greatly impacted by sequestration, which reduced the NFHS budget, in the face of increasing operations costs.  If sequestration continues into FY 2014, the Service will have lost close to $6 million in appropriations for hatchery operations funding since FY 2012, while operations costs have continued to rise.  In response, the Service in the fall of 2012 launched a comprehensive review of the 70 fish and aquatic species propagation hatcheries to ensure it will be positioned to address highest priority aquatic resource needs now and into the future while working within its budget limitations.

The National Fish Hatchery System: Strategic Hatchery and Workforce Planning Report outlines the current propagation programs as well as problems associated with sustaining operation of the NFHS in its current configuration, and suggests possible changes to how the system could be managed under several different scenarios.  The report identifies the NFHS’s focus on five priorities for fish and aquatic species propagation, including: recovery of species federally listed as threatened or endangered; restoration of imperiled aquatic species; tribal trust responsibilities; other propagation programs for native species; and other propagation programs for non-native species.

The Service will use the analysis to engage stakeholders in a discussion of the future of the NFHS. The Service is also working with the U.S. Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Reclamation, Bonneville Power Administration and Tennessee Valley Authority and has put in place agreements to provide reimbursable funds for the operational costs associated with mitigation fish production on streams and rivers impacted by federal water resources projects.  Congress supported these steps, in recognition that the Service can no longer fund the production of fish for mitigation of federal water resources projects within its current budget.



Tellico Wild: A Weekend Of Wilderness In The Cherokee National Forest

Tennessee Wild is hosting a weekend of free outdoor activities to celebrate the 50th anniversary of The Wilderness Act of 1964, and to support protecting special forest places while promoting the Tellico Region and Cherokee National Forest as the ideal destination for outdoor recreation in the southeast.   Come learn more about a key effort to protect special places in ... (click for more)

Lee Hosts National Fishing Tournament Aug. 5-9

Lee University’s Campus Recreation and the Lee University Anglers Fishing Club, in partnership with Southern Brothers Anglers, Bendabout Farms and Pryor Lake, will host the 106th American Casting Association North America National Championship Tournament Aug. 5-9 in Cleveland. “We are honored to host this prestigious and historical event for the first time in the Southeast,” ... (click for more)

House Approves Expansion Of Chattanooga Veterans Affairs Clinic

The House of Representatives passed legislation Wednesday to authorize funding for a new lease and expanded Veterans Affairs clinic in Chattanooga. This veterans’ package has been approved by the House and Senate Conference Committee.  Rep. Chuck Fleischmann said, “I am proud to announce the legislation passed this afternoon will fund a new lease for a multi-specialty ... (click for more)

KFC Manager Arrested After Staging Fake Robbery

Police were called Sunday night after a manager of the KFC on 3rd Street staged a fake robbery in order to take money. Fellen Hayes, 24, was arrested after police say she conspired with a man named "Ira" to make her theft look like a robbery. These events occurred shortly after noon.  She initially called police saying that a tall black male had approached her and taken ... (click for more)

Curtis Adams: Beck, Mackey Should Be Considered For County Commission Leadership

Just think about this;  a person highly qualified applying for a job.  As he is just about finished filling out his papers for his interview, he sees at the bottom there is a place for him to check Democrat or Republican.  He would think, “if I mark the wrong one I may not get the job.” Being a real leader requires honesty, integrity, and, most importantly, fairness. ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Mark’s 50th Anniversary Toast

In the new book that celebrates the first 50 years of baseball’s Southern League, its splendid author Mark McCarter recalls that very early in his career as a sports writer, he was riding with his boss somewhere and mentioned that if the legendary Allan Morris ever needed help covering the Chattanooga Lookouts that he’d love to help. Today, as he looks back, he ruefully adds, “I ... (click for more)